Every year, National Vodka Day, October 4th, demands that the nation come together and celebrate its favorite clear spirit. Vodka often gets a bad rap, mix it with a holiday celebrated mostly by fraternity bros and sorority sisters flaunting social distancing rules, and you might forget that the spirit isn’t only sold in cheap plastic bottles at corner convenience stores. In fact, Vodka is America’s favorite liquor, in terms of volume sold per year.
When it comes to high-quality booze, Vodka actually has a long and storied history. Not every Vodka is distilled from potatoes, it turns out, and the liquor isn’t only prized for the fact that it doesn’t really taste like much (even if that’s what many drinkers want from their Vodka). Vodka can be produced by fermenting any form of cereal grain, even fruits, and the best vodkas do offer varying levels of delicate complexity.
In Slavic regions, Vodka is served strictly as a lone sipper, typically ice-cold straight out of the freezer (or the snow, presumably). But quality Vodka can also be used as an excellent base to zhuzh up martinis, cosmos, highballs, craft cocktails, and, yes, those dreaded Red Bull concoctions.
To celebrate National Vodka Day in the only way we know how, we’ve pulled together this trio of international vodkas—none of them from Russia, mind—that offer an excellent way to graduate from basement bashes to spirited sophistication.
Carbonadi Vodka hails from the Piedmont region of northwest Italy, and its name refers to the specific filtration process that gives this spirit a unique level of smoothness. Carbonados are black diamonds, which are surprisingly absorbent and remove impurities from the vodka. In this case, the liquor has already been distilled five times before being filtered through the Carbonados.
Chase Potato Vodka
Chase Potato Vodka can be thought of as the single malt of English potato vodkas as it is grown, harvested, mashed, fermented and distilled all on the same family farm in Herefordshire, West Midlands. The triple-distillation process employs a copper pot that’s the tallest in Europe, measuring over 70 feet tall, allowing Chase Potato Vodka to serve excellently as a foundation for classic and contemporary cocktails.
Broken Shed Vodka
New Zealand-based Broken Shed Vodka is triple distilled out of fresh water from both the Northern and Southern islands and as a bonus, includes natural whey protein in its ingredients. Broken Shed proudly turns down additives, including sugars and other sweeteners, and is both gluten and GMO free.